When you think about nutrition, what comes to mind? You may be thinking, “I know that I should watch my carbs, low sugar or no added sugar and I should make sure to get my greens in.” This trail of thinking is true, but there is so much more to nutrition and nutritional facts that you need to know and keep in mind while going after your healthy lifestyle goals.
Eating a balanced diet is vital for good health. Certain foods provide our bodies with good nutrition, which means your body gets the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals to live and function properly.
We need a wide variety of foods that offer the right amount of nutrients for good health. Some of these FACTS lie within these simple statements:
CARBS – There is such a negative connotation these days with carbs, but in reality, we NEED carbs. Carbohydrates have four primary functions in the body: provide energy, store energy, build macromolecules and retain protein and fat for other uses. There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch and fiber. Sugars are a simple carbohydrate that contain one or two molecules of sugar whereas starch and fiber (complex carbohydrates) contain many molecules of sugar.
As a general rule, stay away from processed foods!!!
Examples of good CARBS: vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole fruits.
SUGARS – Not all sugars are bad for you as they can provide energy for your body (in between meals, while sleeping and during workouts to ensure your body does not get dangerously low in blood sugar) . That said, added non-natural sugars (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup) ARE NOT good for you. Not only are they not good for you, they are believed to be the leading cause of diseases that kill millions of people a year. The American Heart Association reports that most Americans consume an average of 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, much higher than the recommended 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
Examples of good SUGARS: apples, honey, carrots, beets and yogurt.
PROTEINS – Did you know the proteins have six major functions in your body and are known as the “building block” of the body? They repair and perform maintenance on body tissue (hair skin, eyes, muscles and organs are all made from protein), give you energy, help create hormones and enzymes. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.
The myth that humans can only absorb 20-30 grams of protein per meal has been circulating forever. The truth of the matter is, you can absorb 100% of the protein you eat, but not all of it is used by the body, some of it is excreted. A NEW study concludes that most people should eat a minimum of 1.6g protein per 2 lbs. of bodyweight per day.
Examples of good PROTEINS: seafood, eggs, beans, milk, poultry, lean beef and of course Designer Protein.
FATS - In addition to an adequate intake of protein and carbohydrates, your body needs fat in order to maintain a balanced metabolism. Healthy fats help give your metabolism the boost it needs to get rid of unwanted, excess body fat. Fats also protect your organs, help keep your body warm, help your body absorb some nutrients and produce important hormones.
Good fats are unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats). Bad fats are trans fats which cause heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Examples of good FATS: avocados, whole eggs, fatty fish, nuts, dark chocolate, chia seeds and extra virgin olive oil.
CALORIES - We all know we need to pay attention to our calorie in-take, but to fully grasp why, we need to understand that these calories provide fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Fats have the highest concentration of calories (9 calories per gram). Protein and carbohydrates each have 4 calories per gram.
The human body burns calories in order to remain healthy and balanced (a function of metabolism). Your metabolism may also turn calories into proteins or amino acids if the body needs it. As you know, the inverse is also true, too many calories consumed can lead to weight problems and poor health.
As we focus on nutrition for National Nutrition Month, we want to ensure that you have the facts and know how to feed your body the essentials it needs to have a happy and healthy life.